Published January 13, 2015
The New York Knicks will try to get back on track Wednesday night when they host their Atlantic Division rival, the Toronto Raptors, at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks have lost two of their last three, including a tough home loss Sunday afternoon against the Los Angeles Clippers. L.A.'s bench led the way in a decisive fourth quarter as Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe anchored an attack that saw the reserves score 48 points.
"Their bench has been good for them all year, our bench has been great for us. That was the difference tonight," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "We just didn't get it tonight. I had a lot to do with that."
Woodson tried to go with Amare Stoudemire for offense in the fourth, but the Clippers took advantage of Stoudemire's defensive inadequacies. Woodson also didn't use the bench much outside of Stoudemire and J.R. Smith. No reserve played more than seven minutes besides those two.
Carmelo Anthony led the way with 42 points and Raymond Felton added 20. No other Knicks player scored in double figures.
This will be the Knicks last game before the All-Star break. Anthony was elected as a starter for the Eastern Conference team and will be joined in Houston by center Tyson Chandler, who will make his first All-Star game appearance.
The Raptors have enjoyed the return on their investment in Rudy Gay. After he made a game-winner in overtime against the Indiana Pacers Friday, Gay drained the deciding bucket with 4.8 seconds to play to defeat the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday.
Gay was anchored to the bench with foul trouble through most of the fourth, but came back and led the Raptors to their third straight victory.
"My hands were sweating, I couldn't stop moving my legs. I was itching to get back in," said Gay. "Obviously it's not a game I'm proud of, but I'm proud to get a win with the team. I'm happy the team still had confidence in me."
His coach knew Gay would be up to the challenge.
"He's a closer," said Dwane Casey. "His role card has closer all across the front of it. He has done it his whole career. He has done it at high levels, like in the playoffs. I have seen him do it so many times. That is what he does."
Gay failed to score 20 points for the first time as a Raptor when he finished with 17. DeMar DeRozan led the way with 22, followed by John Lucas III, who netted 14 points with 12 coming on fourth-quarter 3-pointers. Kyle Lowry had 11 points and 10 assists and Alan Anderson scored all 10 of his points in the final frame.
Since acquiring Gay in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto is 4-2.
This is, surprisingly, the first meeting of the season between the division rivals. The two split last season's four matchups with each side winning once at home and once on the road.